Book review

The Curse of the Gloamglozer by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (2001)

Part of the 'Edge Chronicles'

There's a brilliant new world to explore in The Edge Chronicles. Actually, this world is flat, so there is a real possibility of sailing right over the edge, one way or another. They also have floating rocks. I mean, floating in the air. They have built their finest city on a floating rock and anchored it to the mainland by a stupendous chain. This city is called Sanctaphrax, and it is a magnificent place. The buildings are palatial, the way of life sumptuous. It is peopled almost entirely by academics, but as you might expect, there is deep division between the branches of learning. If you are not really clear about the difference between earth studies and sky studies, you will be when you have read this book.

What kind of book is it? It is total fantasy. It is a story about an academic who gets totally carried away with his researches and unwittingly unleashes an evil entity onto an unsuspecting world. Well, not quite, because he comes to his sense in the nick of time and manages to entomb his evil creation in an underground chamber for all time. This is what Linius Pallitax says to his daughter about his wretched work:

'I dashed for the door, pressed the Seal into place and leapt through the gap. As the door slammed behind me, I heard the gloamglozer's muffled screams of rage. It thrashed about inside the laboratory. It pounded at the door. It threatened and pleaded - but I was deaf to its entreaties.
'The gloamglozer had been imprisoned. I could only hope that, in time, its stone jail would become its coffin, and that the threat from the terrible monster would disappear for ever. I, for one, would never return to the Ancient Laboratory, and - by destroying all those clues which had led me to it - I intended to make sure that no-one else could either ...' He clutched at Maris's hand. 'I didn't think that anyone would ever set foot in there again!'

Of course, someone does set foot there again. Even as he speaks, his apprentice is down in the Ancient Laboratory befriending the gloamglozer. Quint, the apprentice, firmly believes that he is helping!

They're in a right mess, and if you want to know what happens you will have to read the book. Actually, it's quite nerve-wracking.

One thing you can't fail to notice when you flick through this book, is that it is full of extraordinary illustrations. There are plans and elevations of Sanctaphrax, and sketches of the lie of the land, so you will soon get a feel for the Edge territories. The characters are cartoon-like and they rub shoulders with fantastic beasts. But for all their strange appearances, when you read this book you will see that the people are quite real. They have great plans which come to nothing, they do the wrong things for the right reasons, and the right things for the wrong reasons, they die when they shouldn't, and generally mess up all over the place.

If you enjoy fantasy and magic I think you will really enjoy this book!

What can I read next?

Don't worry! If you really enjoy this book there are plenty more in The Edge Chronicles. Have a look at these:

  • Book One: Beyond the Deepwoods
  • Book Two: Stormchaser
  • Book three: Midnight Over Sanctaphrax

I have to say, if you haven't already read all the Harry Potter books, I think you would enjoy them:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

If you enjoy magic, but feel you are ready to move on to something a little more serious, I recommend the quartet of books known as the Earthsea series by Ursula Le Guin. In the first book, Ged, a rather unlikeable young wizard, shows off and in doing so releases a monster into the world which only he can vanquish:

I think you might also enjoy this one by J R R Tolkien:

One more suggestion! I think you might like to look at The Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

The Curse of the Gloamglozer features in these lists: